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Emerson Court House and Town Hall

104 Church Street, Emerson, Manitoba, R0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1985/05/01

View from the main elevation of the Emerson Court House and Town Hall Emerson, 2005; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2005
Main Elevation
View of the northeast perspective of the Emerson Court House and Town Hall, Emerson, 2005; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2005
Northeast Elevation
No Image

Other Name(s)

Emerson Court House and Town Hall
Emerson Court House
Palais de justice d'Emerson

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1917/01/01 to 1918/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/08/17

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The striking red brick Neo-Classical-style Emerson Court House and Town Hall, constructed in 1917-18, prominently occupies a grassed corner lot in the heart of historic Emerson, located on Highway 75 next to the Canada-United States boundary. The two-storey structure is bordered by Church and Winnipeg streets in a mixed residential and commercial area, one block east of the town's business sector. The site's provincial designation applies to the structure and the two lots on which it sits.

Heritage Value

The elegant Emerson Court House and Town Hall, with its grand entrance and richly detailed facades, is a splendid example of a Neo-Classical-style public building constructed for a small regional centre. Designed by John D. Atchison, one of Manitoba's foremost architects trained in a neo-classical aesthetic, the structure features immense Ionic columns, pediments and a deep cornice that wraps around the building's whole. Located in the Eastern Judicial District, this important building economically accommodated multiple uses, including the main-floor town offices and land registry, upper-floor courtroom that doubled as a theatre and a basement jail. Little altered over the years, the facility continues to be an outstanding example of pre-1920 architecture and a community focal point in Emerson.

Source: Manitoba Heritage Council Building Screening Committee Minutes, June 18, 1984

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the site include:
- placement of the structure on the southwest corner of Church and Winnipeg streets in Emerson, with its front facade facing north

Key elements that define the Neo-Classical style of the Emerson Court House and Town Hall include:
- the structure's temple-like form and monumental proportions expressed through its formal symmetrical composition, two-storey rectangular volume on a high concrete foundation and limestone plinth, massive front (north) portico, pedimented east pavilion and high parapet
- the grand portico composed of tall wooden Ionic columns set in pairs on contrasting bases, a large frieze with the name 'COURT HOUSE [ampersand] TOWN HALL' in raised letters and a pediment adorned with dentils, modillions and carved wreath and garland
- the round-arched entrance portal encompassing a large multi-paned window on the second storey and pedimented doorway with side and transom lights, all flanked by paired wooden pilasters
- the deep, continuous entablature with a modillioned cornice
- the east pavilion's finely detailed brick pilasters, pediment and square-headed windows
- otherwise restrained finishes and details, including smooth brick wall surfaces, limestone sills, portal keystone, etc.

Key internal elements that define the heritage character of the multi-purpose building include:
- a clearly articulated ground-floor plan with west-side offices and east-side council chambers leading off a central hall and the rear (south) spaces now used as a town library
- basic details and finishes, including the high hallway door openings with transom windows, oak doors and window trim, maple floors, two vaults, etc.
- the wide, open staircase with side passages to the upper floor
- the large upper-floor auditorium with hardwood floors, a stage and rear balcony with seating
- the basement spaces, including bathrooms with oak tongue-and-groove partitions and rear jail cells




Recognition Authority

Province of Manitoba

Recognition Statute

Manitoba Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Heritage Site

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Government and Institutions

Function - Category and Type


Town or City Hall


Correctional Facility
Courthouse and/or Registry Office

Architect / Designer

John D. Atchison Company of Winnipeg



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

213 Notre Dame Avenue, Winnipeg MB R3B 1N3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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